Morgan Elementary SD#36 Surrey

School Name: Morgan Elementary

School District: SD#36 Surrey

Inquiry Team Members: Carrie Mogollon;,
Megan Pearson;,
Paulina Pekova;,
Brad Issel;,
Robert Taddei;

Inquiry Team Contact Email:

Type of Inquiry: NOIIE

Grade Levels: Primary (K-3), Intermediate (4-7)

Curricular Area(s): Not applicable

Focus Addressed: Aboriginal understandings (for example, Traditional Knowledge, oral history, reconciliation), First Peoples Principles of Learning, Indigenous pedagogy, Social and emotional learning

In one sentence, what was your focus for the year? Indigenous perspectives within Social Emotional Learning (SEL)

Scanning: This spiral of inquiry is embedded within our broader school plan. Currently our school-wide inquiry is focused on social and emotional learning. We are studying and implementing the RULER (recognizing, understanding, labelling, expressing, and regulating emotions) approach to SEL. During the scanning phase (stakeholder consensus, including student and community survey and documented conversations) of our school-wide inquiry, we identified that our learners are curious, however, need to further engage in the depth of SEL. This year, a group of educators have identified an opportunity to enhance this work through an Indigenous lens. At our school, there are 6 (now 9 including a new student and 2 others that have not ‘submitted their paperwork’) students with Aboriginal ancestry who have self-identified, two others who have informally identified, and perhaps more. Our next step is to connect directly with these students, in order to better understand their experiences in school.

Focus: Initially we imagined that as small group of educators we would explore ways of using the Six Cedar Trees as an ‘anchor’ within the RULER framework to reinforce more holistic approaches to kindness, caring, compassion and empathy. However, as we took our first collective steps into Indigenous learning we soon shifted our focus to the humbler focus of relationships.

Hunch: Our hunch is that by exposing students and educators to Indigenous learning opportunities through the First Peoples in Residence Program, we will promote belonging and generate a more holistic understanding of learning and a deeper appreciation of Indigenous knowledge as core (and not simply an add-on). We also believe that this inquiry will give us opportunities for meaningful connections with our Indigenous learners. Evidence of the impact of our inquiry will be students’ capacities to identify two caring adults, and their attitudes and understandings of Indigenous knowledge.

New Professional Learning: As a committee, we grew our collective capacity by sharing relationships, experiences, and resources. Carrie connected us with Chief Harley Chappell of the Semiahmoo Nation. Paulina shared her experiences in Port Hardy learning from elders and connecting with local Indigenous peoples. She also shared resources from the district Aboriginal Services Resource Department. As a committee, we submitted a proposal to learn from district cultural facilitators through the First Peoples in Residence Program. Our new professional learning reinforced relationships and our collective efficacy.

Taking Action: We decided to host the First Peoples in Residence this spring, inviting Chief Harley Chappell to do the traditional welcome and witness ceremony during our opening school-wide gathering. All staff contributed to a potluck lunch to welcome our guests (including Frank Hurt Secondary graduate Violet Nelson who shared the ‘Hide and Seek’ music video at our Orange Shirt Day Assembly. The cultural facilitators, Mavis Dumont and Candace Crockford shared with each class over the course of the week, providing all students and teachers with the opportunity to see themselves within Indigenous learning. During our closing assembly, Mavis Dumont invited our witnesses forward to share.

Checking: During the first day, we connected with the Indigenous learners at our school. We connected with the 9 students that have Indigenous ancestry. Each of them were able to identify caring adults who believed that they could be successful. In addressing the other key questions, students varied in their understanding of and personal connections to their learning. Three students made specific reference to their ancestry and two expressed an interest in learning more about their culture/language. During our closing gathering our witnesses (including three students and a teacher) shared a range of observations from specific knowledge that they gained, to understandings about how learning takes patience and time.

Reflections/Advice: Together we took our first steps in growing our shared capacity. We made relationships with local Indigenous leaders and educators, and followed traditional protocol in our school wide gatherings. As an inquiry team, we will reflect on what our students and staff are saying, and determine our next step toward incorporating an Indigenous lens to our shared work.

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